Sometime in 2018 depending on your market region BFGoodrich launched the KM3 a revision to the popular KM2 Mud Terrain tyre. Some bold claims on increases to performance. The 5 - 8 -27 mantra was part of the marketing.
The new model purported to be a cross-over tyre suitable for both All Terrain and Mud Terrain uses. Typically the ATs have a 75:25 ratio of block to valley within the profile and the Mud Terrains having a typical 50:50 block to valley profile. So what is this witchcraft? Is it any better and is it really a cross-over?
Compared to the older KM2 the tyre was claimed to have 5% better traction in mud, 8% more grip on rocks and 27% tougher sidewalls. A claim that the KM3 outperforms the previous generation KM2 in spades. Although 5% is hardly a spade full.
Having used the KM2 and KM3 extensively in Sand, Mud and Rocks I can say it performs better but 5% is a small amount. Is it noticeable, I think so. I switched my tyres at the Michelin Training Center in Stoke in 2018 and on the drive home I noticed an immediate difference in noise coming from the highway drive home. This is even though there’s no specific claims on the noise in the marketing literature. I’ll break this down later. The stability was improved no doubt due to the tougher sidewalls. So is it noticeable? Yes it is. I've now driven the length of Africa and I don't drive in a straight line.
A Mud Terrain isn’t the best tyre to go into sand as that would be something almost like a racing slick. The less tread means the less disruption to the sand surface as so higher flotation. So you’d imagine a KM3 would be terrible. It’s not so. With sufficient deflation based on your vehicles weight* you can effectively “dig” your way across wide expanses of sand. I’m too heavy to go dune bashing but having travelled across the top of Mauritania in very deep sand to visit Ben Amera I can tell you it performs very well. With a worn older tyre I’d guess it gets even better as the blocks round off and so takes us back to the less surface disruption. My tyres were almost new and I got there and back with only a few incidents which of course are driver error and my vehicle weight.
I did not note that I had to drop my pressures any lower than normal but maybe I should have as the stronger sidewalls do seem to have an effect. I’m now on my second set of KM3 and more recently I’ve been experimenting with some lower pressures and it does seem to return dividends. However only you know how heavy you are and how low you can go.
*Don’t use a pressure figure your mates tell you works, figure it out yourself based on your individual weight. It’s important for all road surfaces. Your truck may be lighter or heavier than your mates.
Mud Terrains in mud do perform very well. Who would have thought that? You don’t need to keep as much momentum as you would with an AT like the KO2. This is one of the most important aspects. You can get yourself out of most situations with a KO2 if you have the momentum and you are an experienced driver. With a KM3 you, like me, can make more mistakes and still make it through. As I’ve said my vehicle is heavy and I’m not the best driver but to date we’ve not been stuck in Mud. The tyre seems to shed mud from the tread very well and cleans itself off quite quickly. So that’s 5 stars from me. Is it any better than the KM2? I honestly cannot tell if it is or is not but neither tyre left me stuck in the sticky stuff. I’ve had incidents but I wasn’t stuck. I’m confident in entering mud with this tyre and don’t second guess its capability, only mine!
GRAVEL and ROCK
What can I say about this. I’ve done tens of thousands of kilometres on gravel and rocks. I’ve truly gone places I should not really have been. The performance is outstanding. There’s some YouTube videos of me being silly one various mountain passes and trying to destroy my truck and my tyre. I’ve also noted even when new they don’t pick up stones as easily as the KM2. Significantly less in fact.
We recently succeeded in killing a tyre, I should say that. I can say that the wear of gravel is much greater than on any other surface. It really takes its toll. I’m at the physical limit of this tyre due to my axle weights and this is reflected in the pressures I need to run. Combine this with significant ambient temperatures here the tyres are working really hard. Recently I’ve ripped a tyre apart with a tear which is large enough to deflate it in a couple of seconds. This was a combination of low pressure and the age and kilometres on the tyre. My current, second set is starting to show its age and is due to be replaced. Older tyres are much more likely to suffer punctures. This is the way. More on this below.
It’s not a highway tyre but performs as you would expect on highway. It’s a confident tyre that passes this to the driver. It’s not as scary in the wet as some mud tyres but it still needs a change to your style if you are used to a road tyre or even an AT. The wet breaking is not brilliant but adequate. I’ve had my moments with emergency stops in both dry and wet and didn’t hit anything. I think that’s a good sign. The goats get everywhere as do the taxis in Africa and they don’t care if they’ve come out on you.
In the dry you can motor along like any other tyre. I mentioned the stability earlier and it’s not a bouncy wobbly tyre it just feels normal, probably due to the thicker side walls. With the tyre off the truck you can feel the difference from other brands with the side wall thickness. I suppose the wobbly bouncy feeling could change with larger sizes as I’m only running and 235/85R16.
PUNTURES AND WEAR
I’ve had two deflations in over 100,000KM. Both times this was at the end of the tyre life and once was a tec-screw roofing bolt. So that doesn’t really count as they’re designed to drill through steel. The other time I’ve mentioned above. I killed it myself and the tyre failed. What happened is hard to say but it’s ripped not sliced. Typically slicing happens in the wet. A wet tyre is much easier to slice. This was in the dry and very sudden in a not particularly difficult section crossing a dry river bed. However I was running sand pressures and giving it some power to come up the bank. The tyre had over 40,000km already and was a 4 year old. Hardly a big loss. It’s had a very hard but long life.
Additional investigation on the rip that was not the ultimate cause of the deflation. I need to speak to Michelin Technical about what happened. Watch this space.
Chipping is still there but less than previous tyres I’ve had. I’ve got some chips as the tyres are old and I’ve spent almost a year driving on gravel tracks and pushing the truck up mountain passes. They are certainly significantly better than the original KO as that was awful with chipping and it's much better than the KM2 they replaced and more like the KO2 in this regard. A significant thumbs up there.
Big block tyres wear strangely. See the photo. This is caused by high torque on tarmac type surfaces where the tyre contact patch is travelling at the speed of the vehicle but the tyre itself drags at different speeds through the contact patch. This causes the blocks to compress and then skip as they roll out of the contact patch. This is the same effect as if you are trying to file a piece of metal flat. You always end up with a high and low point on the edges. On tyres this creates highs or lows on the leading or trailing edge depending on direction. Different levels on blocks across the tyre is because the blocks are not all supported the same due to size and position on the tyre. The effect is exasperated at the edge near the side wall due to the differing load at that point and the potential for it to be hotter due to under inflation or heavy load as I my case.
Note the block levels and wear. Makes them noisier as they get older.
MY WEIGHT AND PRESSURES
235/85 R 16 120 load index
Max 1700kg Front
Max 2300kg Rear
Road - Highway Speed 70mph - 40psi Front / 65psi Rear
Cross Country- Maximum speed 35mph -33psi Front / 51psi Rear
Mud/Sand - Maximum speed 14mph - 28psi Front / 43psi Rear
Emergency - Maximum speed 5mph.- 24psi Front / 37psi Rear
TYRE CHANGED IN WINDHOEK AT SUPER TYRES
I received the tyres for free after entering a competition but this is not a paid review nor has my review been previewed by BFGoodrich.
Easy border quite a bit of annoying hassle from the money/insurance guys.
First you need a PCR test. Of course you do. You need this to both leave Botswana and enter Zambia. Cheapest place is the government testing lab at the weighbridge in Kazungula. This is on the right on the hill as you decend into Kazungula pretty much opposite side of the road to the shopping precinct with Liquorama and Choppies. However until you pay you don't need to go there. So you go to the Botswana/Zimbabwe Border and pay for the test at BURS Cashier and pay there. Just go to the window and say you want to pay for a covid test. Get your receipt and go to the weighbridge testing office. Test results available next morning at 8am. The cost 500Pula.
Armed with your test go across the new Kazungula bridge to the other side of the river. Nothing needs to be done on the Botswana side. Go straight over. One you reach the gate to the terminal stop and exit the vehicle. Go to the back middle between the two arches and hand over your test. Get your temperature taken and sprayed with some magic vapour, head to foot you are sprayed.
Proceed right to the unified passenger terminal on the Zambia side and park up. The hassle starts now. Insurance is required for Zambia but just say you have a yellow card and ignore them. If you get stopped by the police say you are buying insurance in town. The cost in town is only 170K for 3 months. Its much more expensive here and you might get a fake. You can buy it online before entry. Your choice.
Enter the passenger terminal and go left. Start at Botswana Immigration (exit) then Customs (exit) the port health (Zam) at the back of the hall. Immigration and port health will want to see the PCR.
Next window pay your $20 USD Road Fund you will need this at each toll gate where you also pay another 20K.
Switch to the right hand side of the hall. Go to Immigration and pay for a visa. Theres two options. A combined Zim / Zam visa and a Zam only. We opted for the Zam only. $50USD for 1 month but extendable up to 2 times with 30 days more each time for free at the home affairs office in most towns. Easy.
Now up to customs but first you need to go to Interpol for clearance. Thats outside to the left. Go out turn left under the covered walkway and the little building at the end is Interpol. Take your car! See pictures. If you have a carnet he stamps the back of the carnet page you are using and you return to customs to get the carnet done. If you are doing a TIP i would ask customs if you need to go to interpol first.
Nearly there. Go to the last window in the hall near the exit on the Zam side and pay your bridge toll ($20usd is the cheapest option and currency) and your carbon tax. Carbon tax is in two versions, transit or not transit. If you are entering Zam and leaving via the same border its cheaper. If you are entering Zam and leaving via a different border its Transit and for us was 480K (normal is 240K).
Leave....stop at the exit gate in the middle of the road. Don't block the arch. Exit vehicle and show the guy in the office your Toll, Carbon Tax and Carnet or TIP.
As borders go this was really easy.
On the way in you turn left there's a sign to tell you to turn right if you need to do Mass Distance Charges. We have no idea if this is true or not. Anyhow, normal vehicles go left.
You turn left into the main area and left again into the parking for immigration.
Straight to immigration step 1. As simple as it comes this one.
In you go and complete a departure card. We had to ask for one. The Arrival and Departure cards are the same. Complete that and hand it over with your passport. They stamp you out. Simple.
On the way out you might notice a huge sign saying to hand in your cross border slip (Road Tax) which you paid for on entry. This was not needed. I asked if we needed to hand them in and he said no.
On the way out of the Namibian side there a lady at a desk. She will likely flap her wrist limply to signal you to stop. Go over and complete her clip board. All that was needed was basic vehicle details and type and name of driver etc. I think passport number was the most complicated part.
So you're out of Namibia and into Botswana side. First stop is port health to show them your PCR covid test.
Hand over the PCR, well push it through the little slot. Have a chat and wait for a little square of stamped paper. The PCR is returned. You will need it later.....This little office is right next to the sink. You do not enter the building.
Botswana Immigration and Customs. Step 4 and 5.
Go into the covered walk way and into the Immigration "hall" and complete a arrival card. Handover the card, square of paper from PCR window, the actual PCR test and your passport. Ask for 90 days.
Your PCR test is returned again. You don't need it any more. He will give you a piece of paper (gate pass) with one stamp. Write on your vehicle registration and Make and progress to the customs "hall".
Hand over passport of driver and piece of paper (gate pass). Pay the insurance and road tax and other fees on his card machine. For us it was 256 Pula. CREDIT/DEBIT CARD. No mention of cash. Get a receipt and a stamped gate pass.
On the way out of the border. Place the gate pass in a box which is held by a uniformed man.
One of the easiest borders in the world.
No checks for Alcohol, Meat, Dairy or Vegetables. Nothing was asked for. No checks were made.
As you can probably guess the virus thing has effected our plans. Evacuation back to the UK after a very long thought process of "shall we stay or shall we go". We spent about 20 days in relative isolation in South Africa and then flew back. Wore masks for 14 hours on the plane which sat on the runway in South Africa for 2 hours first. Got almost straight into a rental car in the UK and came straight over to my mum's house which is where we've been ever since. Car is stored in Jo-burg at a friends house. Thank goodness for them!
Who knows how long it will be till we get back. We were fully covered on the Insurance to stay in Africa but the risk was unknown so we came back and the trip insurance is now expired. We would have been covered on the new extension policy anyhow. I got that in writing!
Been a bit bored back in the UK. Could have taken the opportunity to do so much stuff but I haven't. Spend 12 hours in bad almost and then do nothing all day. Its still rubbish here and i'm not sure the relaxing of the rules is a good idea at the moment but it is what it is i suppose.
Now i'll post some photos. People like Photos.
Some Extra Ventilation for the Fridge.
Few Animals From Kruger.
Random Namibia inc. a flat Tyre
The BFGoodrich KM3 had come all the way down West Africa which was a lot of Kilometers. Excellent Tyre which i cannot fault.
Few of Angola...
Field Repairs from the Nigeria to Cameroon mud slide.
Its been another few months since i posted but we've been active on Social Media. I still get loads of visits here so here goes.
I think the last post was from Angola. We've been in Namibia and a bit of drinking and shenanigans was undertaken. We do that a lot it seems. We met some great people, got an invalid (in my eyes and the eyes of the law) ticket off the police. We saw loads of stuff, we were there three months! It was great, we are going back next year.
So on exiting Angola the TIP caused some problems at the border as it was blank. The people issuing it made a right mess partially due to the fact they issued it when we left Cabinda as the people used the Carnet when we entered Cabinda. The people at the exit insisted in trying to correct the error of the Carnet use. I tried to stop them. Turns out i was right they should have left it alone, stamped out the Carnet and left me to get a a proper TIP entering main Angola. I mean who issues an entry TIP when you are leaving. Well they tried.
We go into Namibia and that was also a bit of fun. Immigration wouldn't stamp the second passports they wanted to stamp the ones we left Angola on. So they made a fuss. So we went back into Angola and got the second passports stamped out of Angola, passports that had never entered Angola. They were really helpful and just said "OK". The Namibian Immigration then had no choice as they'd said they would do it if the Angolans stamped it. They were not happy as they expected the Angolans to be arse holes....they were NOT. They were perfectly reasonable and stamped us. The Namibian lady was not happy and pretty unreasonable. She refused to serve us. LOL
On going to our Wildcamp in Namibia I spotted another Overlander. It turns out he was going to the same camp. When we got there, to cut a long story short, we'd met before. We met him in 2012 in Windhoek. Lutz is a German who previously drove a Land Rover. He now drives a Land Cruiser. I don't like him as much now....we had a great time.
The roads in Namibia are no good. Corrugations for mile and miles and miles. Sometimes they are BIG. The car was being shaken to pieces.
We also met bruce and Laurie again from Livingstone Journal
We ended up at Oppi Oppi Koppi, the free for Overlanders, campsite. Its a brilliant place to do maintenance, get drunk, meet locals and get drunk. We met Jasper, Anna and Duncan. Jasper like a party. Hopefully we didn't disappoint.
We passed the Tropic of Capricorn again and again and again....we were there three months!
The barrel at Signal Hill, a very remote Wild Camp. The old vehicles as Solitair. Few animals we saw from the truck. Not even in a Safari Park. They are just there in the Desert.
We climbed the Big Daddy dune as Sossusvlei / Deadvlei. Julie recreating the 2012 jump shot.
Dear father its been a long time since my last confession...LOL
(Jelly has asked me to say its in no order at all, chronologically speaking)
My Dad and Uncle are both complaining that I've not blogged at all for a long time (March!). I have an excuse. Its because for a reason I do not understand at all? This is that Weebly block many countries in Africa, Weebly are my web host for both my Free Blog and my Business site (which I pay for!). They will not tell me which countries they block. This means that I cannot update the blog unless I VPN past the block and also people cannot read my blog from those countries. Weebly inexplicably do this for security!? So their platform is so unsecured that they don't allow Nigerians, for example, to use their system in any way? This is all I can conclude. Indeed I cannot log in from Nigeria to update my blog or many other African countries. So there you have the excuse. Its a good one I hope you agree.
The last time I blogged I posted some pics of the border crossings taken on the Dash-cam. Then "Houston we have a problem" as my Dash-cam stopped working so the plan to document all the borders was over. Indeed they do get easier and there is a lot less hassle in the ones after my last but it would have still been nice to do that for everyone. So another excuse.
After leaving friends in Senegal and meeting some new ones on the way we've made quite a few stops as its now 287 days since we left home. Many things have of course happened since that and we've had Hospital stays and some stuff....so here goes.
Senegal was uneventful but there is a lot of football happening there. You cannot drive anywhere without seeing a game in progress and people training. Jelly mentioned some statistic about the number of Senegal players around the world. Its a lot! No doubt a good way for some quite poor kids to make fame and fortune. Not being a football fanatic I cannot recall the statistics. We didn't lose the Senegal flag quite then but the children do like to steal them from the car. That was later in Ghana where the little sods took three of them. A major exercise involving payment of other children who then returned all but one flag. All of course in a sorry state as once peeled they are distorted and almost unusable. What they think when they do this is anyone's guess but what i can tell you is they are not cheap to replace even to me and i make them. We now have an expensive plan to relocate all the flags to higher ground.
Making visas on the road is not an easy task and the west side of Africa is expensive for visas for all Nationalities including the the English/British/UK Citizens. I'm not sure what we are. Its says British on my passport but that does that make someone from Northern Ireland? What does it say on their passport? You tell me. Anyhow, we think we've spent well over €1000 on visas so far. Exact figure will come when Jelly does the accounts.
If you ever see one of these chocolate bars. Don't buy one. Terrible, Distgusting and just inedible. Yes i did struggle through but save your money.
I don't think I've posted this elsewhere in Mauritania escorted by Stephen and TrailPunks we went to the Ben Amera Monolith. Its the second biggest, arn't they always. So some photos of that. A couple of nights there the way in and out has kilometers of very deep sand. It was a nightmare for me. Its about 40c and second gear low range driving with high engine temps and constant beeping from my engine management system. I got stuck twice. I wasn't the only vehicle to get stuck. Even the Toyota's do....
The Gambia was like little Britain and everything was available. Products from home and food from home. It was amazing. If you want a week on holiday in Africa and you are British this is a nice place to go. There's not too much to do but its a beach and bar place. Its OK if you are of a certain age and want to go somewhere. Its not particularly for the young if you know what i'm saying. There's a lot of single white women with young black men. You even get Bacon.
I've also eaten some very strange food. Very strange indeed with some strange flavours i'm not sure if it was flavouring or bacteria and virus. I then got Typhoid.
When you get Dengue and Typhoid you end up in Hospital....Not a great Hospital as the Doctor never heard of Dengue and everything in Africa is Malaria. Even if you have Kidney Stones....its Malaria. Lots of deaths because they just say its Malaria. My medical report said I had Sepsis!?
Some of the illness took place in at a beach resort as I needed a room, so to speak. Three weeks of boredom.
I wonder what that pill was....(spot the pill)
Some of the food we buy leaves a little to be desired....cockroach rice anyone?
We took the Tropic of cancer in our stride an did a little something for prostrate cancer in the form of a wee.
The crossing from Nigeria to Cameroon was, shall we say, eventful. It involved a few hours waiting to cross a river and a few hours waiting for the mud to slightly dry. It was, in my opinion, impossible to drive. The 6x6 pingauzers thought the same and all stopped where they were. Luckily the intrepid first one took us under his wing so to speak and helped us through the really bad section. They re-made part of the road and scraped off about 100 meters of wet mud from the tops of the track. This enabled just enough traction to get up the hill. Unfortunately in all the stress and panic we did not start the Go-pro. Damn!
When the mud ends the dust starts....
There are also to massive potholes
Once of the wild campsite in Angola comes complete with its own ship graveyard. Some you can get on as they are on the beach (mostly).
Maintenance and oil changes and all sorts of repairs are needed on the road. Top tip is glue. Lots of different glues. Tapes. Screws bolts and rivets. All make for a simple same day repair. No hunting local shops for stuff. We even need the odd car wash. It always nice to have a sand free, wind free, sun free parking area to do maintenance. Preferably flat and concrete.
This has so far taken 6 hours to post so here are some random photos that were in my list to talk about.
I'm way behind on these so apologies. They take a while to do and I can only do it when we have a good connection. I also missed the photos on the Cassamance to Bissau so theres nothing to post. My DashCam through a wobbly, as we say in the UK.
Easy border with some bad roads involved. First rule is to ignore iOverlander its WRONG ! We manged to sign and stamp out of Guinea Bissau twice because of this. The first points in Piche are not there (its not in Gabu either). There is nowhere to stamp out in Piche. We tried ! The a little farther along that road is another point where you can do it all. I presume Piche is the place if you want to do it via the river crossing??? Anyhow continue all the way to Buruntuma and do it all there. This is only Bissau Exit as the Conakry entry is past that on some super rubbish piste. Axle twisting bad piste.
Its a super easy crossing with the only problem was them not knowing what to do with the carnet and not understaning you didn't have a passevant/laissez passers. I think if you do have one of those they the cofusion would be less. Either way it was easy. No charges.
After youv'e done both and hopefully got only one exit stamp where we got two they lower the rope and you are across to the Guinea - Conakry side. The last bit of piste before the border is terrible and then the part after for some kilometers is also the same. Be prepared for this. Its not that long but takes time. If articulated trucks can do it so can you. The distance is not large but from Bissau to Koundara took us 10 hours including a small stop for lunch.
Arriving at Conakry these a rope across the "track" and the guys in the hut will ask you to drive past once you've stopped at it. Normal process. They do'nt need to see anything. Park infront of Customs or as directed and give him your Carnet. At this pioint I was told to go over, quite a way to the immigration place on the left. Its a walk or about 100 meters. The photos below show it was we drove past. Once we got stamped into Conakry I went back to the truck and was handed my Carnet by the waiting guy. He came out to give it me. All easy and no charges.
This is a super easy border. Just don't arrive on the Senegal side at lunchtime. You know the lunches that are 3 hours long from 12 to 3pm. How a country runs with everyone doing this is beyond me. They start at 8am and finish at 5 but have 3 hours off in the middle. Anyhow, yet again we arrived in the middle. The Douanes on the Senegal side is closed for lunch. Other than that I presume they are NOT 24 hours here.
Gambia side is all in one building to the right of the road going south. There's 2 steps to perform and the first in in the little window to the right. This is simple process and Jelly stayed in the car. The second part is the office to the left and that's the carnet stamp. Julie never left the car as is normal. There was no hassle really apart from a guy wanting a lift to Senegal. No money spent.
You then drive through no mans and on perfect tar and to the Senegal side. This is two buildings quite far apart (drive it) and one hut. The first part is the Carnet Office on the left and thats shut for lunch for 3 hours. The second part is the little Hut where you show your passport also on the left. The Carnet and Hut were easy. The guy in the Hut wants to see your passport, that's all. No money spent.
Drive on to the passport control hut about 1km farther on. This has two windows and also had a large queue for the outbound window on the left so I presume also shut for lunch and clearing the backlog. You need the smaller window on the right. There was a helper here which I presume was official although not in uniform. He told us where to park and dragged me from the wrong queue and put me at the smaller window on the right. The guy in here was a big officious but all good. Wanted to see both people and needed occupation for his book. No money spent.
Gradually getting round to posting these crossings as i get the time. IT takes ages! Anyhow i know this is not the official name of the place as the border is miles before the actual ferry and Barra but it describes its location quite well. I've also posted below the way to get on the ferry. The bridge at the moment has no on an off ramps so large trucks are limited on the bridge. This limit will be removed soon enough. The trucks all use the ferry. Its sometimes busy so avoid mornings and evenings if you can. We had no problems and they are now running two ferries again. The last one sank....
This is an easy border. There were loads of kids as always and a few touts and no fixers. We changed money here with one guy. The rate was OK. We secured his services early on and he stayed with the car. I did everything on my own and then Jelly went to do her passport. She always stays with the car. It means queuing up times are doubled for passport control but it was no problem.
When you arrive it looks like the pic above. Go left and park up. Someone who may of may not be a police guy will tell you where to park. We parked at the far end near the Douane booth. Pic below.
Take your carnet here (above). Now i'm not so sure you must do this as the car is cancelled later on and you might be able, as I've heard to cross Gambia without burning a carnet page but that's your decision.
'Next go a queue for the passport exit. The queue is to the right. The other queue on the left is the entry queue. There were a few people working and the queue "snake" was three "wiggles" deep and it only took 10 mins.
Next you go to the back office. There's and entry way in between the two queues. See the kid in blue in the photo. Right where his face is. Go down that and get to the windows and go left in front of all the windows. Then at the back left a corridor to a small office on the right. This is where you get the car stamped out (i think the passevant is cancelled) in your passport. He also took my finger prints here as they didn't do it at the front windows. They did however do Jellys fingers and photo at the front. So maybe this is a way of making sure you do it?
That's it you are done.
This one is a little confusing but its all good. We paid nothing as we are visa free. First go to point 1 which is the main desk/counter on the left in the main office. I handed him my carnet and he kept it. They were busy. He stamped the carnet with a police stamp on the page eventually. This is not the main customs stamp you need. That's later. Then they sent me to the back right office where he looked at the passports (point 2). I was on my own again. Jelly stayed with the car. Then to the office at the back left (point 3). Right at the back. Down the corridor and last door on left. This is where they took the passports and filled in the big book. Again I was on my own. Jelly is normally never seen. All good. I suspect if you need to pay for a visa this is the place. Below is a list of the visa free countries. ALL others pay.
Next go to the Douane office (point 4) and get the carnet stamped. He almost knows what hes' doing. No drama here.
No fees for us and no inspections and no hassle. One carnet guy asked for something an I told him he was 50th in the queue for a gift as we'd been asked loads of times before. A bit of a joke and we were on out way.
So now you are in Gambia and passing a few check points. Don't miss the ticket off which is actually a weigh bridge. You MUST get your ticket for a foreign vehicle here. Cost was 8000CFA and 500CFA for the person extra. Driver is free. You pay inn CFA !!!! not Dalasi.
Drive into the weigh bridge park up and go to back of the hut shown. All very pleasant. We are a Land Rover so no need to weigh. Not sure if they would ever ask to weigh you.
Drive on to the port gates. Go straight to the metal gates and wave your ticket. Get let in and queue on the ramp. The red white metal gates across the road are manhandled by a yellow vested womble.
Taken me some days to get enough connection to post this.
We arrived at the border from Nouakchott but it would make little difference if you arrived from Boghe via Rosso along the river road/track. It must be said though that the road from Nouakchott to Diama is shockingly bad but being re-paved. There's about 100km of terrible car destroying potholes and corrugations on the diversions. The reason i mention this is the mandatory National Park fee of 200 per person which even though you don't want to see it, you pay it. Its basically a toll road. There a guy in uniform at the last police checkpoint before Diama collecting your money.
After him its few km of track to the border. There are some buildings on the left and almost zero touts or people hanging around. Its quite pleasant. There was one change guy "Goulam" from Senegal doing the money and the rate was OK but we changed only a small amount so the charge was quite a lot percentage wise. He spoke good English and I gave him a card which i signed on the back. So you will know its him if you decide to change to some CFA.
First office is the passport office and the door on the right. Its in the picture. No change was made or asked for to stamp the passport. This is normal. There should be no charge.
The next office is the Douane and there is a charge for the stamp of 10€ and for this a receipt is offered. The office is clearly marked and the middle front door leads you to a lobby and you go to the office at the back left.
While we were talking to the money changer a police guy came over and took our passports to the next office. We never actually went in to that office. It was a "delivery service" but we might have been lucky. The office was next right to the Douane had a single door and an desk inside to the left with another office to the right. This is where they took the passports to stamp us out. There was a few waiting which is why they might have taken the passports to stop us having to queue. I presume this is the office where the corrupt €10 charge is attempted but for us, nothing.
Then there's the guy that lifts the second bar over the road. That's the community charge of 50MAU
That's it your done. It was easy to exit Mauritania.
Now for the dreaded entry in Senegal. Easy as...
First stop is the gate on the famous bridge. There's a guy in uniform from the water/dam company. He wants 4000CFA. If you've chnaged money with the guy i mentioned then you have collected enough small bills for this part of the journey. Get some low notes to pay these charges. Change was give by the gate guy so a 5000 will do.
So you're over the bridge and into the fun stuff. Well that's what you've been told. Its easy although there was a lot of discussions by various police staff but i don't not know why. We had our passports done, vehicle documents and driving licence typed into the PC. Photos and prints taken. All pretty normal. Again no charges. What i can say is a local was charged something like 10€ for his local car carrying some foreign business people. We were not changed for the passport stamp and it was not asked for. He wanted to see original documents. Not copies.
So then its to Douane for the passevant. 72 hours given. We arrived on a Wednesday at 2pm and were only given until Friday. The charge is 2500CFA. He asked to look at the carnet and asked if the vehicle was a 1998. It was and so we needed the carnet or there is according to form a 250€ charge for the passevant. The passevant gets you to Dakar where you get the carnet stamped at port.
Have a beer....
Go to the port customs office in Dakar to get your carnet stamped. The details are on iOverlander. The parking is street side and we found some on the red and white curbs (illegal) with a load of other cars and trucks. Jelly watched the car. The place was closed (Friday in our case) for lunch 1200 to 1500. I just waltzed straight in. Bypassing the desk on the left and headed straight up the stairs on the right. Look like you know where you are going. Go to Second floor. If anyone offers to help just say no thanks. If anyone asks to see your docs that's not sat in an office just say no thanks. Go to the floor with the coke machine. Its in front of you at the top of the stairs. Turn immediately left. See the chairs and the office behind them. The guy in there singularly does the carnet. You do not need to see anyone else. The office is signed as Temporary Imports. That's it. 5 mins and you are out. Knock on the door if its closed and open it !
BTW....the people sat are not in a line/queue waiting for this office.....
There is no charge for this. The Carnet was complete and he kept my passevant.
To do this process you NEED a copy of Passport and Driving licence and vehicle registration document. We got these easily in a copy shop between St Louis and Dakar. 50CFA each. You will see loads of signs for copy places.
Hope this helps you. Thanks to StephenD for the tips on the second floor and iOverlander and also the many other people before us who crossed the border like ChrisR. I cannot possibly thank you all but its a rule that i need to try to thank everyone. Thanks Everyone!
Excuses first...Mauritania has shocking Internet speeds and thanks to an "idiot" in a campsite I lost all my data allowance and all my credit. So many thanks to the owner in Bab Sahara for not listening to a word I was saying a blindly pressing keys on my phone and so he allowed all my data to expire. This was further compounded by the fact I then ended up with 300MRU worth of voice i could not use and nobody sells the 100MRU top ups to recharge my data. Then once i did do this my SIM card (both UK and Mauritania) succumbed to the heat. This meant i had to start all over again.....anyhoo.
We've not been treating poor Henrietta very well. She's battered, bruised, damaged, dented, scratched and just hot. Shes had a new steering damper fitted as my last one was (we hope) causing death wobble. We've travelled some "roads" which the local said were impossible. Been stuck in sand a couple of times and also watch others get stuck in sand. We've taken Henrietta to places no other Ambulance has been, EVER !
Here's a video of one little bit of the BFGoodrich KM3 roack crawling. Now this looks a little tame but i can assure you it was not and in a 3800kg Ambulance. Its hard work.
We drove part of the train line to Ben Amera from East to West from Choum to the rock. The track from the train station in town is OK for the most part but with some serious stretches of sand dunes the nearer you get to the rock. The rock is the 3rd largest monolith in the world. Its pretty impressive. Also an excellent place to camp.
So let jump back a bit. After entry into Mauritania we went to the normal towns and to the capital in the south. It was VERY windy all the way down and the fuel here is crap so my MPG was terrible. Allow for this! Seriously my MPG went down 10 and this was with all the trucks so its not just my huge box on the back. We then went all the way back to the north east to Chinguetti and on the shitty corrugated road to that pointless waste of time. The landscapes around the area are stunning though but we got a little more adventurous and did Passe de Amojar. A camel fell off the track two days before. It not easy. 70km of very hard piste. When our travelling companions get home there should be more photos and videos of us.
After the Passe we met some Germans in the campsite where i lost all my data and we decided to go to the Monolith. You seen those photos. After the Monolith we went to see some isolated prehistoric crocodiles. No idea why. It was VERY hard work and again super deep sand. Henrietta was by this time getting used to it. We still got stuck. It was a few hours walk and we were exhausted and dehydrated as we were told it was 10 minutes and so went unprepared for the heat and over 2 hours.
Did i mention we went past the Tropic of Cancer. I took a piss on the sign in memory of all the people and family who've suffered through prostrate cancer.
Now we get a bit random and i'm posting photos from the last month or more....from two countries....
The exit from Morocco is pretty easy as borders go. No hassle at all from anyone. The Mauritania border is pretty typical with touts, fixers, money men and sim cards. Its wasn't at all difficult. Some pictures below of the places you need to go for the process. You can get a fixer to help for 5€ or there abouts so if its your first real border this makes it easier. Its really not needed though. They will latch on to you as soon as you arrive but just say you do not need help, thanks.
First Queue straight infront in this shot. Park at the side of the line of trucks and walk over. They might give you foreign priority and push you to the front. This is Passport only if I recall although I think they needed to see the Moroccan TIP but this has been scrapped now for who knows. The Last Queue shown in this shot is a walk back from the exit gate. Its on the left when walking back and its a small office window with one guy. Its the first one on the left in the "island" in the complex.
This is the bypass to the XRAY. The guys will want to see all sorts of stuff both outside and inside the XRAY. Its normally what they call the "Carte Gris" but this could be both your nations vehicle registration or the Morrocan TIP paperwork which is now scrapped so who knows what you will show in future.
Park in the XRAY and get out. When finished move car out of XRAY and park up. Wait for your stamped Morrocan Paper. Drive over to the far side of the Truck and the guy might want to take a look inside. Not an inspection just nosey. If they see anything on the XRAY they will want to look at it. They missed various drones in multiple cars and wanted to see some bottled water.....must have looked like something else.
Park at the front of the last office on the right here and get a stamp on something. Take it to the guy standing in the middle and he sends you to the last office on the left as seen in this and the first photo. Your out. There are many people just outside the gate. Ignore them all and go to Mauri border post. If you want to change money do so but its less hassle on the other side. Both MAD and Euro is exchanged. You will need 1275MRU for the vehicle insurance. We didn't get this at the border as the office closed and got it in Mauritania.
Snake through the horrendous no mans land of wrecked cars. Arrive at the gate and park on the left after the white building. Walk back to the office marked 1 above then go to office 2. The ladies queue separately from the men in office 2. This is where you pay for the Visa and take the photos and fingerprints. We also exchanged our money here and decided not to get a sim card just yet. Visa is 55€.
(got the card in town) Sim Mauritel 100MRU. Inc 500MB. Top up 1GB valid 7 days 100MRU via scratch card's. Three shops tried 500MRU for 1GB but its only 100.
Office 3 vehicle fee 10€. Go inside there's a building on the right with an open door. Go in there and its first on the left.
Last office. Police check. Yellow building....and off you go. If you get insurance there's is a small cafe on the left after the gate. The Assurance office is inside the first door on the left there's a desk. If hes there!....restaurant guy is super helpful. If he's not there go to town and buy it there. Its 1275MUR for 30 days. Which is the max. duration. They sell it 10 and 20 days also i think. Maybe less that 10 also. There seems to be a price list for Foreign insurance and it seems to be fixed price. We got ours in town. No problems.
We are sort of in Surfers Paradise but that,s in Australia isn't it?
There was also the trip to Cirque Du Jaffa where we nearly died last time. This time its all been made "road". Some friends of ours had a similar experience nearly turning over their UniMog.
We are not quite lost but we've lost our blogging spirit. We've been doing Instagram and FB posts quite a bit. It takes so long to do a proper blog post it just falls down the list. Once I've got some better WiFi i will post some YouTube videos. We got stuck....i think that's on Insta.
Been all over Morocco now but make no mistake we've not seen it all. We've been doing a bit of stuff helping others out as much as we can. We do know getting insurance in town in Morocco is about the same as getting at the port. So for those that want Car Insurance in Morocco its 932MAD for a Land Rover in down and just a shade under 1000MAD in Tangiers Med. So your choice. I've posted before about how to get tickets and stuff for the ferry before.
We've also got a IAM (Maroc Telecom) sim. It needs some random stuff doing to make it work but they are 20 or 30MAD and then 10Gig is 100MAD. What we do know is about 6 weeks after you start using it they want you to register. If you do not you get cut off. You can register in the MT shops in the larger towns. You cannot do it anywhere else. I tried.
With regards to the random stuff sometime you will get FB and WhatsApp but no true internet. If you dial 888 and then press 2 and 1 after listening to all the messages and then hang up. Then dial 555 listen to the message and hang up. This sometimes makes the internet work on a new sim. I got this off Reddit after searching. It seemed to work.
We've had a few issues with the car. Firstly we have white foam ontop of the PAS (powersteering) reservoir. Just on the clear glass. The liquid is crystal. So we changed it in a Total Garage using the free pit and workshop. Its made no difference. I think its just that we have a clear bowl and you don't see it foam on the black standard ones. We've also had a oil cooler pipe unscrew and eject 2 litres of oil into the dessert. We fixed that but the pipe is leaking from its union so a nice guy is bringing us some down from Belgium. Thanks Patrick! (thanks to Mark and Larry again at LVB in Doncaster for the parts. We are here again in Midelt waiting for Partick to "Mule" them down. Top bloke! Midelt is bloody freezing at night.
We've been back to see Cirque de Jaffar which is where we nearly turned Matilda over in 2011. We blogged that. Its now been widened and made good. So we went to look. We did however go slightly wrong getting there the day before and ended up in a pickle.....we survived. Again will try to post videos on YouTube. I will link them in a blog post when i do.
They are actually filming it here so i'm sure my normal habit of using film titles is allowed in this case. However i'm not sure that anything we have done recently is related to the title which is what we normally go for.
Been almost all camp sites so far and not much adventure so we are hoping someone might come down and help us change that. We don't like going too far off the beaten track on our own.
Bits Sandy in the Sahara. We went for a bit of a walk up the dunes. WE walked up the BIG one. You gotta do it once. Erg Chebbi.
If you want to see how big the dune is...This is people on the top. Its not an easy walk but taking your time and having a rest and pack lunch at the top is three hours. Walking to the top is 90 mins for the unfit from the hotel. We took 4 litres of water which was plenty.
A German guy made some art in the dessert.....Hannsjörg Voth was him. We did not pay the 20€ fee each to go inside. You only need to pay this since somebody ("stupid American") fell down the steps and tried to sue the Artist (allegedly as we've been told this by a third party).
We've also been to what has to be one of the best camps in Morocco. Toilets immaculate.
More on FB and Instagram almost daily.
Just a quick post to let you know we are still alive although we are updating the Facebook and Instagram accounts more frequently nowadays.
We took the opportunity to relieve the boredom on the boat. I hate boats. I'd not make it across the Atlantic on one. I almost lose the will to live at an hour. Luckily on the Aswan to Wadi Halfa trip i was asleep most of the time. The Marie Celeste must had had someone like me on board. I would go "postal" quite quickly.
We are here in Morocco and we've spent 3 days on one campsite so far with the "Thou Shall Travel Slowly " rule. Allocated rule number #15.
Rule #14 has been allocated to:-
Thou Shall only Drink Alcohol in a Place of Relative Safety.
What are these ladies selling? They are all nicely dressed...theres one in every track end into the fields. Maybe they deal in Bananas & plums?
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